Eagle Community Gardens hosts Pumpkin Patch event Sunday

Fall is never really complete without at least one weekend spent doing at least one fall activity. For fans of pumpkin patches, the chance to enjoy one locally is this Sunday, Oct. 4.

From 9:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Brush Creek Park and Pavilion soccer field, the Eagle Community Gardens is hosting its annual Eagle Ranch Pumpkin Patch. Though it will look a little different this year due to COVID-19 social distancing regulations, organizers are still confident they’ll be able to offer the same fun event that Vail Valley residents have enjoyed in years prior.

“It’s not going to be the same, but at least it’s happening,” said Valérie Gross, president of the Eagle Community Gardens.

The Eagle Ranch Pumpkin Patch hosted by the Eagle Community Gardens is hosted at the Brush Creek Pavilion each year.
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The pumpkin patch is also a fundraiser for the gardens. As stated on New Roots CO, an Eagle County organization with the Healthy Communities Coalition, the Eagle Community Gardens’ mission is to “build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and to preserve Eagle County’s agricultural history and our environment.” Since 2001, gardeners have been sharing their knowledge, tips and tricks with each other to foster community.

This is Gross’ first year as president, but over the years, the community garden has helped her grow her craft.

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“I’ve learned a lot,” she said.

This year, that became a big focus. Gross said that many new members were interested in joining the group — she said anyone is welcome to add themselves to the private Facebook group Eagle Community Gardens — due to coronavirus. There was a waitlist through April, though most everyone was able to get a plot eventually.

Then the rodents came. They were a huge problem this summer, eating up crops and making it difficult for newcomers to learn without getting discouraged. As a result, the group spent a good chunk of money putting in protective netting around crops. Gross joked that if a mouse could get over a 3-foot fence, it deserved to munch on a few radishes. The gardeners were able to grow vegetables after that, but the situation was still less than ideal.

“It was a tough summer,” Gross said. “My hope for next year is that we can bring back more education sessions: garden talks, online classes, etc. I’ve been encouraging gardeners to share their success and failures on our Facebook page to help new gardeners.”

As a small nonprofit, fundraising is vital to the community garden, and the pumpkin patch is an important event. With the $5.50 family unit ticket for up to eight people, guests can wander through the pumpkin maze and select their pumpkin, which will all cost $5-$10. Attendees also get a free small “pie” pumpkin with entry, and once through the maze, they can take pictures at a photo backdrop, arranged by Gross’ friend, who’s an artist. The lighting, she said, will be just right for family photos.

Scott Schlosser at Haymeadow has donated decorative hay bales. The Eagle Ranch HOA has donated the pumpkins.

Of course, the pumpkin patch is about fall fun, but the bigger picture shows a scene of healthful community togetherness.

“What is important to us is helping individuals and families bond over the labor of love that growing your own food is. The garden is a place of exchange and learning about the environment, nutrition, agriculture. We have made huge improvements in the last few years in making it a place where people can escape their daily stress, have a sense of wonder about nature and learn how to grow food that tastes better,” Gross said.

To reserve time slots for the pumpkin patch maze, Google “Eagle Ranch Pumpkin Patch 2020” and navigate to the Eventbrite link near the top of the search results. Walk-up attendees will not be accepted, and guests with reservations past noon will not need to prepay.

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